A Sister with Moxie – Karen Arscott

Jul 18 2017

A Sister with Moxie – Karen Arscott

With the first few bags of equipment at my feet and on my shoulder, I rang the doorbell of the modest, well-kept home. The door opened, and I was welcomed inside by the bright smile and big hug of Dr. Karen Arscott.

I’ve known Karen, her husband Jim and their family for several years now and have created portraits of several chapters of their family life and have become friends. This visit with my photography gear, however, was to celebrate Karen’s moxie. I designed a portrait session to celebrate her. The stylist arrived and took care of Karen’s make-up as I set up and put the final touches on my vision for her portrait session.

As I set up, I was quick to notice their home decorated with the photographs and items that celebrate their accomplishments. So, while she was getting ready for the first part of the session, I photographed some details around her house. The little things that spoke of the passion and celebration in their lives – event medals from marathons she and Jim have walked, sheet music next to the piano and guitars that she loves to play, hymnals that speak to her strong faith (and love of music), and toys. Toys that speak to the love she and Jim have for their granddaughters who spend quite a bit of time with them. I’ve had the honor both to photograph the girls and be the audience to their energetic living room performances just for me (I’m still trying to figure out how to bottle some of that energy!).   

I asked Karen to jot down a few words how she would describe herself. Her list indeed gives further insight into Karen’s personality and how she lives her life.

Karen lives passionately and is committed to all she does. She is a goal-oriented ‘doer,’ spiritual, playful and empathetic. She embraces and loves to celebrate her inner goddess, loves to lift others up as their cheerleader and is a healthy athlete. I can say that Karen is someone who truly celebrates every day and takes nothing for granted.

Although Karen “retired” as a professor at the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine last year, she never really retired, but rather, cut back to working part-time to devote more time to her granddaughter.

Karen’s love and empathy, especially for the lung cancer community have become a passion that she brings to the Lung Cancer Alliance both as a member of the Medical and Professional Advisory Board and activist for awareness. In 2012 she was a spotlight in their newsletter – see Karen’s story on page 9 of this special section, as well as a guest on podcasts and talk shows. An email I received from Karen after her 2016 trip to Washington DC emphasized her dedication.  “Washington DC was pretty amazing. Lung Cancer Alliance introduced a bicameral and bipartisan bill asking for strategies for beating lung cancer. Lung cancer was the forgotten cancer when the first war (on cancer) was declared in the early 70’s. So now 160,000 Americans die every year of lung cancer, and the mortality hasn’t changed in 40 years. It was great to be part of the introduction of this legislation.”

When I first learned of her surviving this disease two times, my mind immediately made the assumption that she must have been a smoker in the past, or like me grew up with a smoker in the home. Neither was the case. She quickly explained the misunderstanding and how women are more likely to contract lung cancer than men – and we do not know why due to poor research funding over the years. It is vital for everyone to understand that the main risk factor for developing lung cancer is having lungs. Pretty scary stuff. Here is where you can learn more about Lung Cancer and your risk.

As I photographed Karen, her infectious energy level lifted me up as well. We laughed, we talked, and I was honored to create empowering images that showcase this amazing woman and a good friend and a true sister in the Moxie Sisterhood!

Learn more about how you can support others through the Lung Cancer Alliance

Are you ready to Discover, Own and Live YOUR Moxie – join the conversation and become part of The Moxie Sisterhood

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Cheryl Kaiser